If you’re going to create a go to-market strategy for SaaS sales driven business, there’s some things you need to know. There’s some pitfalls you need to avoid and that’s what we’re going to go into today.

There’s really two types of SaaS businesses to drive growth. One is marketing driven. The other is sales driven.

Marketing driven is typically bottoms up where you get a bunch of users to do trials, and then maybe down the line you put in a salesperson, or maybe you don’t. Maybe they just keep adding more users.

A sales driven one is where you go top down. You figure out the customers who should be buying, approach them, sell top down, and essentially drive a transformation using your SaaS software in that customer’s company.

Today, I’m focusing on 5-step go to market strategy for SaaS sales driven businesses.

  • Decide what your sales motion will be
  • Figure out a commission structure
  • Figure out sales contracts
  • Figure out your sales deck & strategic narrative
  • Determine where you will get leads

I will never forget the time I was running ToutApp and we were doing our transition from having a self-service business to a truly sales driven business. It was when we raised our Series A, where we kinda had both working and it was very clear that, if we were gonna drive growth and be a lot more purposeful about it, we needed to go top down and be sales driven.

Now here’s the thing. I know that product led growth is all the rage but it depends on who you’re selling to and what your product is. Depending on that you’re going to have to pick whether you’re going to be a marketing driven business or a sales driven business.

For us, we were selling the sales teams and we knew that every single major sales team needed our software. So we were like, let’s not wait for individual salespeople to try us out and maybe we’ll get a deal. Let’s go top down and drive a transformation to six figure deals, seven figure deals, and let’s like, actually paint the town tout blue, as we called it.

In that transition, I learned a few things about how to create a go-to-market sales strategy. So in this post, I’m gonna walk you through the five key principles that you need to know as you’re doing this.

Step 1: Decide what your structure will be

Firstly, when it comes to your sales engine, team, process, machine, whatever you wanna call it, your sales strategy. You first need to really decide on what your structure is going to be.

Now you can have an inside sales team. You can have a hybrid where they’re part inside and then sometimes they actually go out to visit the customer. Other times you can have an enterprise or field team.

How do you decide?

The way you decide is you figure out what your deal sizes are. If you’re selling a 5K deal a year, then you should not be visiting your customers.

Your CAC to LTV ratio, your customer acquisition costs to LTV is gonna be completely screwed up. You literally cannot afford that level of service for sales and be profitable on a unit basis.

So that means that you probably have to be inside. Even then, if it’s sub 10K, you probably have to be marketing driven. But let’s just say you’re between a 20K a year deal to a 250K a year deal. In that case, you’re probably going to have an inside sales team.

An inside sales team means that the salespeople stay inside the office or their home. These days they do Zoom calls, they sell on the phone and that’s how they close deals. You don’t need to get on a plane. You don’t need to pay for travel. You don’t need to wine and dine them.

If you get above 250K to like 500K, then you start to see hybrid.

Hybrid means most of the deal is done. I put this at 100K but it varies. You’ll have to get a feel for it.

With hybrid, most of the deal is done over Zoom and over a phone call. You’ll also go out there as the deal gets closer because you’ll find that unless you show up and have a meeting, you really can’t close the deal. That’s essentially when you get hybrid.

Then you get into your 500K plus deals.

When you start to get into these deal sizes, no one is really going to write you a check or sign a purchase order, do a DocuSign, or fill out a form unless they meet you. It’s too much money. It’s a huge budget. Someone could lose their job if they make the wrong decision. In this case, you’re gonna have an enterprise or a field sales team.

So the reason I start here is because it’s not obvious what kind of sales team you need for your target customers, for how much you’re charging, what your deal sizes are. So you need to figure out whether you’re gonna be an inside hybrid, enterprise, or field.

You also need to figure out if sales people themselves are going to be responsible for prospecting. Meaning they are going to find their own leads, or will they rely on marketing?

Sometimes you may not be able to rely just on marketing, in which case you may also hire SDRs.

Often founders will say, “Well, I’m gonna hire SDRs. I’m gonna hire salespeople.” And I’m always like, “Well, hang on a second,”because what you need to do (and I didn’t think about this originally until I learned the hard way) is think about the cost of a salesperson. A cost of an SDR”. That’s the salary plus the commission. You need to think about what their quota is.

You need to make sure if a salesperson makes 250K a year and the SDR makes another 60K that they have at least a million dollar quota. Otherwise you’re going to lose a ton of money paying salespeople because you also have to remember not every salesperson is gonna be successful.

So this is why you need to start thinking upfront about how much are you charging and what’s the right sales model for this?

Depending on the size of your deals, you may not be able to afford an enterprise field rep or you may not be able to afford an SDR.

Those are the things that you need to figure out. Now, there’s no right or wrong answer here. It just depends on whether you’re selling in the mid-market or the enterprise and the deal sizes. And based on that, you’ll have to decide and optimize for it.

It’s important to do this upfront instead of just hiring random salespeople, because if you try and get an enterprise field rep to do an inside sales job, it’s gonna be a disaster.

It’s good to know what your model is, therefore you can hire the right people for that model so that they’re more likely to succeed. Okay, so that’s principle number one.

Step 2: Figure Out A Commission Structure

Next, you’ll have to figure out a commission structure. Salespeople are coin operated. I don’t say this in a derogatory way, I say this as a fact.
Like literally they are in it for the commission. People go into sales not because they can earn a cushy, nice little base salary, they’re entrepreneurs in a way. They want the upside. They want the commission.

They want to drive fancy cars and have nice watches, or if they’re not into those fancy things, they wanna send their kids to really great colleges.

So commission structures are gonna be really, really important.

The first thing I always tell founders, especially in the early stages, is if you are successful, your salespeople will make more money.

They will just make more money than you in a given year. You’ll be like, “Wow, I still get this really shitty base salary as a CEO because we’re early, but they’re taking home bacon.”

Yes, that’s normal, that’s successful.

What you need to realize is the more money they take home, the more valuable your stock is gonna appreciate.

If they’re making a ton of money, that means they’re closing a ton of deals. If they’re closing a ton of deals that means that your stock is going up, and stock is what us founders are in it for.

So why be jarring?

Just know you gotta do a commission plan right. And your salespeople will make more money than you. And you just gotta get comfortable with that because you’re in it for the long game.

Salespeople may come and go. They may stay with you, you don’t know, but that’s the whole point of it.

The second thing is, and I did this at ToutApp. You just gotta go for a very aggressive commission structure.

In the early days of ToutApp, I gave a 20% commission on every dollar that came in.

Every dollar that came in 20% went to the sales rep. And the reason I did that was because we were early, we had no brand, but we needed great salespeople.

There was no way we were gonna get qualified salespeople, good salespeople, unless we gave them a really really aggressive commission structure. And because we gave them a really aggressive commission structure, we got better salespeople.

We got great people.

For that, we were able to close deals and grow. It’s super important for you to figure out how aggressive you can get on your commission plan. Don’t get stingy, don’t get offended if they make more money, because that success will be appreciating your stock.

The last thing that I learned was to have a monthly cadence with Kickers.

If you’re doing enterprise million dollar deals, it’s impossible to have a monthly cadence, but anything sub of that you should try for a monthly or quarterly cadence.

In the early days, we were like, look, you have a monthly quota. If you hit your monthly quota the first month, then you get 20% on every dollar, second month gets 22% on every dollar, and third month will earn 25% of every dollar.

What this did, was it stacked up performance. It made sure that no one sandbagged deals. It gave them incentive to close as many deals as possible every month and hit quota.

They saw if they kept performing every month, they would make more money and more money and more money. And inherently it actually paid off because it put everyone in a really, really aggressive cadence.

The year we did this, we grew like 300%. It was incredible. We went from a million to 3 million a year, and raised our series B.

So this is super powerful.

Think about the compensation structure, get used to them making more money than you. That’s just it’s good.

It’s net good, because your equity is just gonna be worth more, and that’s what you want ultimately. A lot of this compensation plan and structure and how much you can afford is really tied to your pricing model.

Your pricing model is super important because that dictates how much you can afford to spend on sales and marketing to acquire a customer.

Once you have those two things in place, that’s kind of setting the table. Now it’s like, what’s for dinner?

Step 3: Figure Out Your Sales Contracts

The third thing you really need to figure out is your sales contracts.

You’ll have to figure it out what your contracts are, your master services agreement, your sales contracts, your order forms.

Do you send out a proposal to just fill out a link? There’s a bunch of nuances here and you’ll need to figure that out. You’ll also need to figure out your sales script and sales process.

There’s gonna be a certain way that people discover you. You might run a discovery call, then you might run a demo, then you might talk to these people, and have to get to stakeholders. You have to go through security and legal review.

Every market is different, but your buyers will buy a certain way. You’ll start to see patterns.

It’ll be super important for you to lay out this exact ideal flow. And for every deal you wanna make sure that you get ahead of what all the things are that need to get done.

That’s essentially a sales process, your sales script.

You want to lay that out and engineer that to optimize for the customer experience, but also a speedy close, because you don’t want deals dragging on forever.

One of the key things around this is to think about how to give a really great demo.

As you go through a sales process, like the discovery call is important, inside of my go-to-market program, we actually give you resources in exactly how to run sales calls.

One of the things you might also be thinking about is, how do I give a demo? Here is how to give a really compelling demo that increases sales.

Step 4: Figure Out Your Sales Deck & Strategic Narrative

Step number four is, you have to figure out your sales deck and your strategic narrative. This is the most important thing.

Everything else is just like setting up the right structure. This is the meat of it.

  • Why should someone pay attention to you?
  • Why is this a compelling thing?
  • Why now?
  • Why should they choose you?
  • What is the big problem you’re fixing? What is the big macro trend that proves that this is a problem worth fixing.

This all goes into your sales deck and your strategic narrative.

There’s always this question in the early stages like, who’s responsible for the sales deck? Is it marketing? Is it the sales leader? Is it the CEO?

This may be a controversial answer, but I think ultimately it’s the CEO. Because in the early stages, the sales deck is gonna be a little fluid, but you gotta get the narrative, and the narrative is set by the CEO.

Yes the marketing can actually massage it, make it better. Yes, the sales leader will be like, “No one talks like that. I’m not saying those words, I’m gonna put it in simpler words.” Like, yes, all of those are true.

We use a strategic narrative, like the core reason why customers must buy now and why they need to take action. All of that stuff comes together by the CEO. So you got to own your strategic narrative. And I call this a manifesto.

Here is everything you need to know about creating a manifesto. I have to be honest, manifesto… Like strategic narrative is very specific work, and we do this inside of the go-to-market program step-by-step, that’s a big part of it in my coaching program.

Once you have all those things in place, you have your core sales process down. Those are the core things you really have to flush out.

Step 5: Where Do You Get Leads?

The fifth thing that you need to think about is where do you get leads? Like ultimately you’re gonna need leads.

You can have an entire sales team. Maybe you’ll have SDRs, but if you don’t have a strategy on how to get more leads, none of this will work, because salespeople will starve, your company will die, you still have to pay them their base. It’s terrible.

There’s one point where I had this and it was horrible. Like you never wanna end up there. So you need to figure out how to partner with marketing.

There’s a natural evolution to this. At first, you’ll just be talking about leads, but as you really build that partnership, you’ll start talking about what’s a marketing qualified lead and a sales qualified lead

A marketing qualified lead is a lead that marketing looks at and says, “You know what, they should be buying.”

A sales qualified lead is when sales looks at it and says, “Yep, marketing’s right.” They’re not just generating crappy leads, which is why SDR teams exist because sales want to own how they generate leads.

But they’ll look at it and they’ll say, “Yeah, this is a sales qualified lead. We think there’s an opportunity here.” And they’ll convert it to an opportunity after they’ve talked to them, after marking it as a sales qualified lead.

And then finally, if they truly partner, you start running more of an account-based marketing strategy, and I’m a big believer in ABM.

You start running an ABM strategy where you say, “Look, let’s not just wait for leads to come in and save their marketing qualified or sales qualified. Let’s get together marketing and sales talk about who are the a hundred customers we want to go after and figure out a go-to-market strategy so that we can feed them into this sales process.”

So those are the five key principles to build out your go-to-market sales strategy. Number one, figure out what the structure of the team is going to be. Number two, figure out the compensation plan. Get comfortable with the fact that your successful salespeople will be driving nicer cars and making more money for you, but your stock is going up and it’s all about the long game. Number three, your sales contract, sales script, sales process, get that all in place. This is super important. Number four, create your strategic narrative, which translates into your sales deck and many other things. And number five, partner with marketing and run an ABM strategy.

You do these things, you will accelerate the growth of your SaaS business. The video below runs through these all again which I highly recommend watching a few times to really get these steps right for your business.

When you’re actually building a sales driven SaaS business, your ACVs are higher and your churn is way lower. You can actually grow a lot faster and be a lot more surgical about it.

Now, if you are still needing more guidance on how to create a go-to market sales strategy and want the step-by-step framework to follow, then I invite you to check out my SaaS Go-to-Market Coaching Program.

There you can apply to join the program. It’s not for everyone. We want to make sure it’s the right fit for you and we can actually help you. You can apply to join, we’ll get on a call, we’ll talk through it and we’ll bring you on it. If we think we can help you grow faster. And it’s a step-by-step process.